History programmes

History is one of our specialities and many of our programmes have an historical element, usually with some link to the present day. For example in 2010 we made a 'narrative history' series in 10 parts for Radio 4 about government policies on alcohol and drunkenness since the days of the 'gin craze'. And every year we make a single 15-minute 'cameo' about an aspect of Remembrance, which is also usually historical.

Partner and producer Mark Whitaker studied history at Cambridge, then Oxford University, and went on to teach the subject at a number of higher education institutions including the University of Tunis. His area of academic expertise was the history of political philosophy, especially in the seventeenth century and he had published articles in History of Political Thought and History Workshop Journal. In 1990 he moved out of academia and into broadcasting full time, retaining a strong interest in both history and sport.

Square Dog's other partner and producer Mike Hally originally studied engineering and practised it at British Aerospace. However since turning tto broadcasting in 1989 he has also studied a number of history courses in the course of a BA honours degree at the Open University, including War, Peace & Social Change, the Oral History Project, and the Cinema and Society project (also treated as oral history).

Our history programmes as Square Dog Radio are:

Occupation: An examination of the Bush Administration's claim that the post-WW2 occupations of Japan and Germany are a good historical analogy for the occupation of Iraq today.
The Roots of the British Legion: It seems like the Royal British Legion has always been with us -- synonymous with Remembrance Day, red poppies and be-medalled veterans parading with quiet dignity past cenotaphs in London and around the country. Yet it grew out of an assortment of rival ex-services associations that themselves arose from the awful experience of 'total war' and the country's poor treatment of returning soldiers. These new groups were quite different from the traditional Victorian philanthropic charities that had previously looked after their welfare, for these were self-help groups and they asserted their rights rather than asking for charity.
Clair Patterson - scourge of the Lead Industry: The extraordinary story of one man’s discovery of the global contamination of the environment by man-made lead compounds -- a story of brilliant applied science, painstaking research and a refusal to bow to vested interests (science & history)
Olympic Arts: It was called the ‘Pentathlon of the Muses’, and at each Olympic Games between 1912 and 1948 there were medals for architecture, sculpture, painting, music and literature. But most serious artists are not ‘amateurs’, so these forgotten and controversial contests were eventually brought to an end.
The Strange Story of Oliver Cromwell's Head: September 3rd 2008 will mark the 350th anniversary of Oliver Cromwell’s death : but his severed head was only finally put to rest in 1960. This is the extraordinary story of what happened to it.
Textbook Diplomacy: Across Europe school history textbooks are being used to build bridges over deep fault lines of nationalist hatred or suspicion; but while it's proved easy enough to create a joint Franco-German textbook, the task is both more difficult and more urgent in a country such as Bosnia.
Hamish Henderson - 'A Various Man': He's been called "the most important Scottish poet since Burns" but he's better known overseas than elsewhere in the UK. Nelson Mandela sought him out after his release from Robbin Island, Pete Seeger gamely attempted some of his Scots dialect poetry and E P Thompson called him "that rare man, a poet". This programme gives a flavour of the extraordinary life and work of Hamish Henderson.
The Menin Gate: The Menin Gate in the little Belgian city of Ypres is an extraordinary symbol of remembrance - the Last Post has sounded every night since 1929 (bar WW2) and it's the most visited site on the Western Front. This is a little cameo for Remembrance Day, following ''the Roots of the British Legion'' last year and ''the Roots of Remembrance Day'' the year before.
Poppies are Red, Cornflowers are Blue:
The fourth in our series of annual ¼ -hour vignettes for Remembrance Sunday. It's not just how the Poppy became the symbol of remembrance in Britain - though that is a fascinating story, rarely told in full - but also a deeper analysis of why it rapidly became such a strong and enduring symbol, to the point where some fear it is becoming over-exploited. Plus a look at France's rather less ubiquitous flower of remembrance, the blue cornflower, and through these symbols an insight into the two countries' different approaches to remembering those who have died in conflicts past.
The Death-Ray in Your Pocket - 50 years of Lasers: It's often claimed you're never more than 10 feet from a rat, and you could probably say the same about lasers. In the home and at the shops, throughout medicine, the military, and almost everywhere else the laser has become one of the most ubiquitous pieces of modern technology. And that's in just 50 years, not bad for a device that, after its first successful test on 16th May 1960 was immediately dubbed “a solution looking for a problem” [science & history]
Britain on the Bottle: a 10-part narrative history of British drinking and government responses to it since the Gin Act 1736 to the present day
William Quilliam: The programmes explores the life of one of the most extraordinary and controversial Victorians – William Quilliam, who established the first community of English Muslims in Liverpool in the 1890s.
A Brave Medical Life: 200 years ago Samuel Hahnemann published the founding text of homeopathy. This programme looks at his controversial life and ideas in the context of early 19th medicine.
Known Unto God:
Mark Whitaker recounts the story of the discovery and re-burial of the remains of an unknown soldier from World War 1, one of about two dozen cases a year in France and Belgium.
John Arlott - Cricket's Radical Voice: John Arlott, who died just over twenty years ago, was not just the greatest ever cricket commentator. He was also a brave and radical political voice both inside and outside the game
The Art of Remembrance: Mark Whitaker looks at some of the more unusual ways that artists remembered the Great War, through the works of an painter, an architect, a film-maker, a sculptor and a poet.
The Naughty Pictures Committees: On the centenary of the British Board of Film Censors, Laurie Taylor investigates how local councils used to ban films passed by the BBFC and permit others the Board had banned

This page last updated 28 November 2012